Cal Poly- San Luis Obispo has a remarkable teaching philosophy: "learn by doing." It's a philosophy that resonates strongly with us here at CoFED because it does not stress the final product, but rather the process that takes you there. It gives value to experiences over the static collection of knowledge. A group of students have taken this philosophy to heart and are challenging their administration to do so as well.
At one point or another someone told you that it takes a village to raise a child, it's fair to say that it takes a community to build a co-op. At Cal Poly SLO this lesson proves true. After less then a year of talking and dreaming a group of students are well on their way to starting a student-run food cooperative. How did they do it? They decided not to re-create the wheel and looked to their community for support. They joined forces with the Real Food Collaborative, a group on campus who already had faculty advisors and student support. They started a co-op committee with-in the group and this summer they're buckling down to work on their business plan.
Like any new business, they have goals - they want to give students autonomy over their food. They want to provide fresh food to a student body that currently lacks access to such delicious delights. They want to educate their peers on the benefits of eating local and the pitfalls of big agriculture. They want to incorporate student learning into the business model with educational seminars, cooking demonstrations, and creative labeling practices. It's in alignment with the philosophy of the school, one team member reports- a place where people learn about food by interacting with it, learn about their community through working with it. You might say that they’re learning by doing. While they have the support of their peers, the administration has been slow to respond. They've met with campus dining and they’re working with the Cal Poly Center for Sustainability, but it's hard to tell where all the pieces will fall.
This summer, the team will be working on developing their business plan and want to invite anyone who is interested to join them! They welcome all Cal Poly SLO students who are curious about the work to get in contact with them and come hang out. But they also want to open up the invitation to the larger CoFED network. Anyone who is interested in talking about food trucks or business plan development should get in contact with Jesse Gibson at firstname.lastname@example.org! He's a pretty awesome guy and the Cal Poly team is doing great work, so if nothing else, send them an email and say hi!